Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Frightfully Eventful

Working in a Leicester Square cinema, I run lots of events - but not many like Frightfest.

Held every year during August Bank Holiday, Frightfest is a long weekend of horror film programming. Screens are packed with audiences who arrive first thing in the morning, and watched films until the last thing at night.

The festival has been held all across the square - starting at the Prince Charles cinema, and growing to the big screen at Empire. This year, the event has moved again... to its new home, and my workplace.

First of all - I confess, I'm bloody knackered. The thing exhausted me. I ran the evening half of each day - starting at 5pm, and going home in the early hours of the morning. Inbetween, it was my responsibility to ensure that each screen went in on time, and that any operational issues were dealt with as quickly as possibly.

We had to overcome a number of obstacles; the biggest of which was ticketing. Yes, this was a major issue (not from site level, I might add!). The company's servers acted up when tickets went on sale last month, meaning that all sorts of ticketing troubles were caused. Fans couldn't book, or double/triple booked. A nightmare.

Then there were the fans and the organisers, who were not at all bought into the idea of switching venues. At the end of the festival, they did a goodbye and 'thank you' speech in each screen, and explained that they thought my cinema was very clinical and that we couldn't get our heads around the concept of Frightfest, or its fans.

By the end of the festival, I hope we proved them wrong.

See, I was well aware of these issues, so really tried my hardest to make this the best festival it could be. I researched how the Empire had hosted the festival before, and realised that the bar space was important - and so emphasised that space at my own venue. We dressed the bar up so it could sell everything that the downstairs concessions counter could, and I bought enough beers to last the weekend. Oh, did I buy beers!! We had thousands of bottles ordered in especially... and we still almost ran out!!

Most films went on on time. The toilet areas were kept tidy. There were no technical problems (well, none we at site were to blame for!). I spoke to fans and organisers as much as I could, trying to get the message out there that my cinema 'got' them. I think it worked. They seemed very, very happy by the end of the weekend.

There we have it then! Frightfest 2014. A success I think, and fun too.

Shame I won't be around for next year's...!


Some highlights:

* Meeting Robert England. I loved the Nightmare on Elm Street series growing up!

* Meeting Jan Harlan - legendary producer of The Shining (and Kubrick's brother-in-law!). That picture up above is him during an amazing Q&A session I sat in on, moderated by Kim Newman.

* Discussing Peter Capaldi with an actual writer from Doctor Who, James Moran!

* The After Show party.... I am still recovering. I'm not a big drinker, so that was like all my drinks for the next 2 years absorbed at once!
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